Much like the romance between guardian-in-training Rose Hathaway and her dreamy Dhampir instructor Dimitri Belikov, bringing "Vampire Academy" to the big screen has been a complicated process full of twists and turns and anxiety-inducing cliffhangers. But, after years of will-they-won't-they, the powers that be have green-lit the production (re-titled "Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters"), which is currently being shot in London with leads Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry and Danila Kozlovskiy.
In celebration (and anticipation) of the film, we hopped on the phone with author Richelle Mead to talk about the long road to movie, a "21 Jump Street"-inspired cameo idea and the next "Bloodlines" novel, "Fiery Heart."
Hollywood Crush: We've been talking about this movie for years, but now we can actually talk about this movie. Does it feel real yet, or will that happen once it's hit theaters?
Richelle Mead: It's a mix of both, for sure. It's so far away, being shot in the UK. There are days that go by and you almost forget it's there, and then—bam!—something happens. I'll see a still from the set or hear one of the actors on social media, and it just brings the whole world to a stop. You're just like, "Oh my god, this is really—there is a movie. It's not something that's far away and removed. It's actually happening." It's definitely getting more and more real each day.
What has your involvement been like so far?
I didn't do the script, and I'm not on the set or anything right now, but my involvement has just mostly been advisory. The director, Mark Waters, is really great about fact-checking, going over details. Like, he'll email me with things like, "Oh, what do you think of this costume?" or "Can we make this small change?" Things like that. Even though I'm not actively involved in making those decisions, my input has been sought out a lot through this process, which is really nice. Just to know that they're so consciencous and thoughful about everything they're translating from the books.
Do you have plans to visit set?
I should be visiting the set at some point in the future, but no hard details on that yet.
A lot of authors make small cameo appearances in the film version of their books. Is that something you'd consider?
[Laughs] I don't know. I have heard some fans mention that to me. There's been no talk of it at this point. I can't even imagine what I'd do. I'm too old to walk the halls of St. Vladimir's unless we do a "21 Jump Street" thing and I'm there to report on them. I don't know. We'll see if somebody comes up with something clever, then we could talk, but at the moment I'm content to sit back and admire the others.
How closely would you say the "Vampire Academy" script hems to the novel?
It's very close, actually. I was pleasantly surprised. You resign yourself a little, like, okay they could do anything. They could totally deviate. But I was astonished the first time I read it. I was like, this is it. They hit all the main points. They got the humor. They got the emotional impact. There's nothing I can really think of that's a radical deviation from the book, which is just amazing to me. Daniel Waters, the screenwriter, he just really gets it. He gets what I was trying to do with the books, and he totally put that into the pages of the script, and I think fans are going to be really thrilled with it.
It's really exciting that the two men bringing "Vampire Academy" to the screen have such a rich history telling teen girl stories, with "Heathers" and "Mean Girls." Are you fans of those movies?
I am, actually. That kind of drew me up short when I found out they were the ones who were going to be working on it. It wasn't just that I'd heard of them, but that I was fans of their work. If you had asked me to pick people to work on it, and I had gone through my favorite teen movies, they would have been right there, and so I feel incredibly lucky that they were the ones who ended up with that. It's exactly what you said: They get the teen-girl style. They get that kind of dark humor that's in the books, as well, but they still also get the serious side, the emotional undercurrent that goes through all the books. They know how to balance all those things together. I think they're the perfect team, and I'm also just kind of flattered and thrilled—they're brothers—that this is the first project that they've ever worked on together. This is the one that brought them together.
What about Zoey Deutch makes her the perfect Rose?
I think she's got the spirit and the personality of Rose. I mean, obviously, the thing with actors is they take on roles. They're not exactly like the characters they play in real life. But at the same time, there's an energy about Zoey, the actress, that resonates with the character. Mark Waters was talking about when she auditioned, when she walked in, people were like, "Oh my god, that's her." She carries it. I love following her on Twitter. There's a spirit of adventure in her. There are these pictures she tweeted, she and Cameron Monaghan [who plays Mason] got stuck on the Tube. They started doing back-flips off the side because they were bored, and they were stuck in there, and it was really funny, and it was cute, the pictures they tweeted there. It's that fun and that energy that just comes through as Rose... [And] she just threw herself into [the training]. It's a very physical role. She was with a trainer full days, multiple times a week just driving her body, making sure she was in the best shape she could be to carry out Rose. I think that's what really defines the character. She looks like the part, to me, as well, but it's so much more than having a facial resemblance to the character. You've got to be able to portray them. That's what everyone was looking at when they cast her, and I think they did it beautifully.
We ran a poll a few weeks ago asking fans which scene they were most excited to see, and the moment with Rose, Dimitri and the lust charm won by a landslide. Is that the scene you're anticipating most, as well?
I'm not surprised by that answer at all, actually [laughs]. It's huge in the series, the romance between Rose and Dimitri, and it's an escalation of it in the book. I'm not surprised at all that fans want to see that. And I want to see that too. That whole ending sequence is so powerful. The lust charm scene is part of a number of other ones—I should be careful not to give it away—but you know, that's the big climax at the end, and there's a whole series of action scenes that follow on top of that. And I'm super-excited to see how all that plays out. It's a roller-coaster of emotional content, as well as some of the biggest action scenes in the book, I believe. We're going to see how all that training paid off. It's a key moment for all the chemistry for just a lot of the characters in that ending sequence, and not just between Rose and Dimitri, but for Lissa and Christian, as well. I think it's going to be really big.
Another "Bloodlines" novel is due soon. Can you give us a bit of a tease?
The next "Bloodlines" book, "The Fiery Heart," comes out November 19th. That's going to be a big one in the series. For those familiar with the first series, it's kind of like what "Shadow Kissed" and "Blood Promise" were—the point where the plot just really jumps up. It's told through alternating POVs of Sydney and Adrian, and it's just—there's a huge, almost heartbreaking intensity to it. We finally deal with the issues of spirit, like mental health and things like that. So that just really tugs at you, but at the same time, we see Sydney and Adrian's relationship escalate considerably. So fans who liked how hot "Indigo Spell" was, I hope they have their smelling salts for this one. It's going to get turned up in there too. It's just another one of those things I like. I like the contrasting things: I want you to be excited and laughing one moment and gasping in the next, and I think there's just a lot of that. It's got a big semi-cliffhanger ending, so I apologize in advance for that.
"Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters" is due in theaters February 14, 2014.
How excited are you to see "Vampire Academy" finally headed for the big screen? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!